The country’s livestock is suffering from diseases and weight loss due to fodder shortage in the rain-hit areas of upper Sindh, according to official sources.
The lives of hundreds and thousands of livestock and poultry are at risk in rain-affected areas due to water-borne diseases.
“We want to sell our livestock amid unavailability of fodder but the buyers have declined to buy them as they are hit by diseases,” said Laung Sanghar, a grower from Ghotki district.
Heavy rains hit Ghotki, Kashmore-Kandhkot, Jacobabad, Shikarpur and Larkana districts last month, resulting in loss of fodder that led to diseased livestock. “The growers who lost their crops were hoping to earn some income by selling animals but diseases have increased their worries,” said Professor M Ismail Kumbhar of Agriculture University of Tandojam. “Fodder is unavailable in the rain-hit areas, besides drinking water is also contaminated, which is causing diseases.”
He further added that the foot-and-mouth disease, skin diseases, mosquito bites and shortage of fodder were the major reasons for sickness of animals, with goats mainly suffering from them.
Kumbhar appealed to the government to take initiatives for vaccination of cattle. He also called out to international donors to save the lives of people, as they were also consuming unhealthy water. Last year, more than 150,000 cattle died because of various diseases and rains in several areas of Sindh.
Heavy rains hit 21 districts of Sindh but nine of them were severely affected, including Badin, Mirpurkhas, Tharparkar, Tando Muhammad Khan, Tando Allahyar, Matiari, Umerkot, Sanghar and Benazirabad. Loss of livestock and poultry in the rain-affected areas is likely to result in malnutrition of millions of people in these areas. Analyst and Head of the Institute of Social Movements Pakistan Zulfiqar Shah said that the affected people were at risk of developing malnutrition as livestock was likely to be lost.
The livestock sector has emerged as a priority sector only recently on policy formulation. In the rural areas, livestock is considered as a secure source of income for small farmers and the landless. Additionally, it has become an important source of employment generation in the rural areas.
According to the Economic Survey of Pakistan 2011-12, poverty incidence in Pakistan is determined by income variability and thus livestock is the best hope for poverty alleviation as it can uplift the socioeconomic conditions of the rural people. The livestock accounted for approximately 55.1 percent of the agriculture value-added and 11.5 percent to GDP during 2010-11.
Furthermore, the survey says that the overall thrust of the government’s livestock policy is to foster private sector-led development with the public sector providing an enabling environment through policy interventions and capacity building for improved livestock husbandry practices.
The emphasis will be on improving per unit animal productivity and moving from subsistence to market oriented and then to commercial livestock farming in the country to meet the domestic demand and surplus for export.
The objective is to exploit the livestock sector’s potential and use it as an engine for economic growth and food security in the country leading so that rural population’s empowerment and rural socioeconomic development takes place.
Almost 35 to 40 million rural population is dependent on livestock. The poultry sector generates employment and income for about 1.5 million people. Its contribution towards value-added agriculture is 4.8 percent and livestock value-added is 9.8 percent. Poultry meat contributes 24.8 percent to the total meat production in the country, said the Economic Survey of Pakistan 2011-12.
The current investment in the poultry industry stands at Rs200 billion. Poultry sector has shown a robust growth of 8-10 percent annually which reflects its inherent potential.
Source: Argentine Beef Packers S.A.
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